Thursday, 12 November 2015

Ekweremadu: Anti-Saraki Senators Stage A Walkout

Senators Ahmad Lawan and George Akume, who were favoured by the All Progressives Congress to emerge as the Senate President and Deputy Senate President respectively at the June 9 inauguration of the Senate, walked out of plenary in protest on Wednesday.

The senators, who walked out in company with some of their colleagues, protested the decision of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to allow his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu, to preside over plenary in his absence.

Ekweremadu presided over the Wednesday sitting because Saraki was at the Presidential Villa to attend the inauguration of new ministers by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Lawan and three others, later held a brief discussion before they left for their various offices in the new Senate wing.

The plenary was the first that Ekweremadu would preside over since the inauguration of the Eighth Senate.

Ekweremadu remained the first opposition senator that would preside over the red chamber since 1999 when the country returned to democracy.

At the moment, the APC has the majority with 60 senators while the PDP has 49.

Ekweremadu, who had defeated Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno South) with 54 to 20 votes in June, presided over the plenary until the arrival of Saraki around 12.50pm from the Villa.

It was observed that while Ekweremadu was presiding, the chamber was half-empty as only 27 APC senators were on their seats, while 40 PDP senators were present.

Ekweremadu referred the request of President Muhammadu Buhari for the confirmation of Mr. Babatunde Fowler as the Executive Chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service; Ahmed Kuru as the Managing Director of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, and three other executive directors of AMCON to the Senate Committee on Finance.

The Secretary of the Senate Unity Forum, Suleiman Hunkuyi (APC, Kaduna North), in a statement said, “We have boycotted plenary because the minority cannot preside over the majority.”

The senator said, “We noticed with grave sadness, the handover of the hallowed chamber of the Senate today to the opposition party, the PDP by allowing Senator Ike Ekweremadu, a PDP stalwart, to preside over the APC majority senators.”

The SUF therefore vowed to continue their boycott of plenary whenever Ekweremadu presides because they would never recognise him as the deputy Senate President.

But the Senate spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi, said the alleged conspiracy theory by some of his colleagues remained only in their imagination and urged Nigerians to disregard it.

Abdullahi, who addressed journalists on Wednesday evening said, “The bi-partisan stand of the Senate has not and will not be an impediment.”

The spokesperson said the Senate had adjourned plenary till next week Tuesday in honour of the Acting Clerk of the Senate, Mr. Adedotun Durojaiye, who died recently.